Tournament boosts electronics sales

Sales of flat-panel wide-screen TV's rise due to Soccer World Cup

The just-concluded FIFA World Cup provided the excuse thousands of people needed to go out and buy a large-screen, flat-panel television set, according to data released by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA).

Domestic shipments of PDP (plasma display panel) televisions hit 14,000 during May, and 11,000 in each of the two previous months. Shipments in May were up 420 percent on the same period a year earlier, and for the first five months of the year were up 350 percent compared to a year ago.

Those shipment figures may not sound like much for a country of 127 million people, especially when compared to the 600,000 CRT (cathode ray tube) based sets sold during May, but they start to get impressive when you consider the price tag of a PDP television. They range from around ¥330,000 (US$2,750) for a low-end model by Hitachi Ltd. to more than ¥800,000 for a Pioneer Corp. set.

"The World Cup brought on strong demand in the plasma television market," said Youichi Kadota, senior manager of the color PDP sales division at NEC Corp., which produces PDP panels for several companies. "All makers have seen PDP TV shipments increase and demand for NEC panels has risen steadily."

It's not just PDP sets that benefited from the World Cup. Shipments of high definition TVs using CRTs also jumped, up 320 percent year-on-year to 42,000 in May, while shipments of satellite tuners reached 113,000 during May, just over double the total of May last year. Satellite broadcaster SkyPerfecTV offered subscribers to its basic service every World Cup game live from several camera angles, pushing sales of receivers.

The sales are part of an estimated ¥370 billion boost the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute Inc. estimated the Japanese economy received as a result of cohosting the tournament and thousands of fans, players and officials from around the world. Of that total, the consumer electronics industry was expected to benefit to the tune of around ¥20 billion in additional spending, said the organization in a report issued before the World Cup began.

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